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Screening 'should be carried out at blue water schools'

A teaching union is calling for medical screening to be carried out in North Lanarkshire.

Buchanan High School in Coatbridge.
Buchanan High School in Coatbridge.

A teaching union is calling for medical screening to be brought in at two schools where blue water sparked health concerns.

An independent review of the Buchanan and St Ambrose high schools in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, found no link between the campus, built on a former landfill site, and illness.

The review was carried out after parents and teachers had reported blue water coming from shared campus taps and raised fears of links between possible chemical exposure and illness among workers and pupils.

Now, teaching union the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) wants medical screening at the schools for staff and pupils who request it.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: "It is essential that North Lanarkshire Council and NHS Lanarkshire work to rebuild trust with the school community, including the pupils and staff at Buchanan and St Ambrose high schools.

"The EIS calls upon the site recovery group, established following the independent review, to move forward and facilitate medical screening for all pupils and staff who wish it in these two schools."

The call comes a day after a public health professor published a report questioning the level of evidence gathering in the review.

Mr Flanagan added: "The EIS has noted the concerns expressed in the analysis published yesterday by Professor Andrew Watterson of the University of Stirling, over the methodology adopted by the independent review group.

"It is, therefore, even more important that these screening tests should be undertaken to allay fears.

"Medical screening can be undertaken fairly cheaply and could provide long-overdue reassurance to pupils and staff within these two schools, as well as identifying any possible issues which may require further medical investigation."

Gabe Docherty, director of public health at NHS Lanarkshire, said: "The independent report provided a clear reassurance that the schools are safe to attend. That continues to be the case.

"The independent report did not recommend screening of all staff and pupils.

"The review team agreed with the advice given by NHS Lanarkshire to GPs to continue to treat and investigate patients from the schools as they would for any other patient based on their symptoms and signs."

A North Lanarkshire Council spokeswoman said: "We welcome the results of the independent review, which reinforces the conclusions by experts that the campus is safe and there is no link to reported illness.

"We are now focusing on implementing the recommendations of the review, one of which is the establishment of the site recovery group, comprising staff, parents and pupils, and will be the forum for any issues to be raised and discussed."

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